Everyone has seen photographs of the Maldives. You know the ones I mean. They show the ocean as a spectrum of sparkling turquoise hues below clear blue skies that fade into the brightest of golds and oranges as the sun drifts down toward the horizon. And we can’t forget those idyllic overwater villas that are the pure definition of ‘escapism’. Many of us react cynically; ‘Nowhere can be that perfect.’ Well, that’s what I thought too. Then I saw it with my own eyes, thanks to an invitation to write a Sheraton Maldives review following the resort’s recent multi-million dollar makeover.
Sheraton Maldives Review
Getting to the Sheraton Maldives
The Sheraton Full Moon Resort and Spa is a private island resort that, unlike others in the Maldives, is just a short 20-minute speedboat ride from Male airport. Less than 90 minutes after landing, you’re in paradise. No need to stay in Male overnight or pay for an expensive seaplane transfer.
Related: 5 Bucket List Hotels We Love
Sheraton Maldives Renovation
The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa isn’t a brand-new hotel. It’s one of the more established hotels in the Maldives. However, after its recent $US20 million facelift, it certainly feels that way. The private island resort features 176 guest rooms ranging from beach cottages to the iconic Sheraton Maldives water bungalows.
Sheraton Maldives Island Cottage
Arriving early evening, we took our first stroll along the beach as the sun was setting. The sound came only from the waves gently lapping at the bottom of two slender wiggling tree trunks that emerged from the water, between which a single hammock had been strung. But that was it. No other people. No other sounds. We stood with our feet in the water, watching the sky turn to gold, then red and slowly it darkened to the deepest blue. The sand was soft and white with grains so fine that even the geologist I had with me can’t help but marvel at it.
Tearing ourselves away from the sky, dotted with more constellations than I knew existed, we headed to the Island Cottage that was to be our home. The spacious ground-floor lodge had a peaked thatched roof, super king-sized bed and private plunge pool, and sat in a secluded spot amongst the greenery, barely a minute’s walk from the beach.
My favourite part, though, was the bathroom. Inside, yet outside, with a roof covering one half (toilet, basin and bath), an open-air shower and an abundance of lush foliage, it was spectacular come nightfall as the pebble-topped floor spotlights set a romantic ambience and the stars glinted down from above.
Sheraton Maldives Water Bungalow
When we moved to the water bungalow two nights later, it got even better. The villa was beautiful: decorated in chic neutral hues with all the tucked-away mod cons, a supremely comfortable bed and plenty of space. It, too, had a private pool, only this time it was raised above the ocean overlooking nothing but the waves.
Ensuring you’re never more than a glance away from a photo-worthy panorama, the villa’s bathroom was even more impressive than the last; complete with a huge picture window that showcased the oceanic view in all its glory. I can confirm this is best enjoyed with champagne in hand while soaking in a bath enriched with complimentary bath salts. I give you permission to hate me a little bit.
Over the following days, we spend many an afternoon alternating between plunge pool dips, ocean swims and lazing on the daybed on the water bungalow’s deck gazing out to sea.
Sheraton Maldives Restaurants
The Sheraton has already ticked the boxes for views and accommodation. So, let’s talk about the food. There are seven dining destinations at this all-inclusive Maldives resort. Five restaurants and two all-day snack spots.
Our first evening took us to Anchorage Beach. Tables were set up on the sand in front of a huge array of what they called the ‘fish market buffet’, to which we were encouraged to help ourselves. We didn’t need to be told twice.
It was an exotic array of tantalising seafood; from whole grilled fish to melt-in-the-mouth sashimi, seafood salads, fish steaks and Maldivian specialities made (and served) by chefs from neighbouring islands. With the meal lit only by candlelight and live music from a Maldivian women’s drumming group, it made for a wonderful first night and set our standards high for what else was to come.
The next few days saw us enjoying meals at Baan Thai, the only indoor restaurant, where you can indulge in usual Thai classics plus lots you’ve never heard of. Then at Sand Coast, a spot surrounded by palm trees serving an eclectic list of Asian curries.
We also raved about T-For-Tea House. Living in Asia for a number of years has made us sceptical about Chinese restaurants where the fare might not be up to scratch, but the chefs here knew exactly what they were doing with their mix of Cantonese dim sum, Sichuan noodle soups and Mandarin dishes.
Sea Salt Restaurant
For our final evening, we opted for Sea Salt. A handful of tables are perched on a raised pontoon above the water, and a warm sourdough loaf is soon brought to the table with four types of sea salt – hence the restaurant’s name. The waiter demonstrated how to mix the salts with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then dip the warm bread into it. The result was salty, bready heaven.
I would have happily eaten only this for years to come, but I obligingly order the red snapper, which can be in four styles: Vietnamese, Chinese, Maldivian or Mediterranean. I selected the latter and it arrived filleted for ease of eating but still served whole (aesthetics are everything, after all) with a zesty lemon flavour, and topped with tomatoes and olives. My dining partner chose the steak and barely uttered a word the whole time he ate it; so incredible was its flavour, and we both sat in satiated bliss for some time after.
Undoubtedly, our favourite meal at the Sheraton however, had to be the Lagoon Lunch. This five-course addition is well worth forking out for as it was one of the most memorable two hours we’ve ever spent.
Picture a lone table set in water that’s crystal clear. No-one else is around, the table is topped with flowers and there’s a bottle of champagne on ice. Your waiter beckons you out to the table that’s being circled by small reef sharks. With a smile, he explains that they’re friendly.
Before pouring the champagne, he hands you both a cocktail and leaves you to marvel at your present moment for a few minutes before reappearing with an avocado and smoked salmon appetiser. Your taste buds are soon treated to a prawn, halloumi and garlic starter on a bed of watermelon, then a main course of tuna steak with coconut rice and salad. A mango sorbet comes next, and finally a delicate lime millefeuille for dessert. Halfway through the meal (and halfway through the champagne), we learn it was our waiter Patu’s first day.
His was the ideal level of attentiveness. He was there when we needed him and not pushy when we didn’t. All in all, the combination of service, food and setting made it the epitome of dining perfection.
Sheraton Maldives Activities
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all we did was eat during our stay. But, I promise we also took advantage of the many Sheraton Maldives activities on offer.
One pastime that we couldn’t help but indulge in is wildlife-watching. Lizards and birds meander past every now and then, and come dusk, the sky comes alive with fruit bats flitting in and out of the trees. Climbing down a few steps from your villa deck into the sea affords the chance to snorkel with rays and brightly-coloured fish bobbing between the coral, and you never know when a quick glance might reveal a flying fish leaping through the air. If you opt for the Lagoon Lunch (and you should) expect to have those friendly reef sharks for company as they circle your table waiting for any crumbs you let fall escape from your plate.
Another must-do is a snorkelling excursion. Ours took us to a nearby sandbank via speedboat. Of the many sandbanks in the area, this is the only one that doesn’t disappear with the tides, and if you’re lucky you might even have it to yourself. Your guide will happily snap underwater photos of the fish, coral and you looking fetching in your goggles so you have some physical memories to take home, and also brings along a beach picnic for when you’ve had your fill of snorkelling. As lovely as this afternoon was, I’ll admit the evidence of coral bleaching and washed-up plastic on the bank was saddening to say the least.
Later that evening, we took to the water again for a sunset cruise. The staff know where the wild dolphins are likely to be and are skilled at spotting them from a distance. With the sun glowing fluorescent orange as it dips toward the horizon, and the dolphins keeping us mesmerised as they leap and jump alongside the boat, this two-hour trip was truly incredible.
Related: The Perfect Singapore Getaway
If I had to identify a single take-home thought during my Sheraton Maldives review stay, it would be about colour. The colour was something I thought a lot about during our trip, as it turns out that ‘blue’ is the least descriptive word in the English language.
It cannot convey the sparkling azure of the sunlight bouncing off the waves, nor does it conjure the rainbow of tones in this one colour that you can gaze upon in a single moment; from directly above your head to swimming around your toes.
There are more shades of turquoise and aquamarine than I knew possible, and to see them all glittering and glinting at you from across the Indian Ocean, tempting you into the water and making you revel in just how grateful you are to be taking all this in, is truly something to behold.
The Fit Traveller was a guest of the Sheraton Maldives for this stay. As always, the words and opinions are authentically our own.
Zoe Louise Cronk is a freelance writer and editor who left the corporate world behind to spend her days crafting ideas into articles and exploring new avenues of health and fitness.
When not writing or daydreaming, Zoe can be found planning the next tick off her travel bucket list.